Collecting the K-Pod camper
After eight months of waiting my K-Pod teardrop-style camper was finally ready to collect from the manufacturer in Tauranga. Our plan was for a two-day trip up to Tauranga then a four-day trip back via a number of backroads to really test the camper out and get material for these articles.
Leaving late Saturday morning, I joined Ashley and Gillian for a scenic trip from Wellington up through Fielding and Kimbolton to Mangaweka. Our accommodation for the night was a bach just out of Mangaweka that they had access to, set on a piece of farmland with sheep, lambs and the odd cow grazing around the deck, and an amazing view down the Rangitikei River valley. It was quite an experience being woken up in the middle of the night by a cow munching grass right outside the bedroom window. The next morning we had breakfast watching the rising sun playing on the bluffs just across the river from us, and I got some very pleasing photos at the expense of a cooling coffee.
We left the bach reasonably early, giving us time to detour off the Desert Rd and stop on the road to Tukino ski field for some photos of a snow-clad Mt Ruapehu. Lunch was at a very pleasant little café at Motuoapa just north of Turangi on the side of Lake Taupo, then we stopped again briefly at Kerosene Creek, just south of Rotorua at what was supposed to be a very attractive thermal stream. Unfortunately the beauty of the creek was marred by the die-off of all the ferns along the bank, leaving just bare muddy banks and dead bracken. With the day getting on, we continued to Rotorua, around the eastern side of the lake and across to our final destination at Papamoa Beach. As usual, Ashley and Gillian were sleeping in their car, but I had arranged a cabin for one night before joining them on a powered site in front of the cabin the next night, once I had picked up the camper. Tired from all our driving, dinner that night was early bar snacks at the nearby restaurant and bar, soaking up the evening light over the beach, before we all retired to my cabin for a social end to the day.
The next morning I had just packed up, ready to head off and get the camper,
when I got a message from Jack at K-Pod asking if we could pick it up in the early afternoon. As Gillian was visiting family for the day, Ashley and I took the opportunity to have a leisurely explore of the Omokoroa area near the K-Pod factory, with lunch on The Esplanade looking out over Matakana Island. When we finally arrived to get the camper Jack gave me a full walk-around of the camper and all the options I had chosen, and I was soon the proud owner of a new
K-Pod with our personal colour scheme and feature list. Heading back to
Papamoa Beach I was very pleased with how easy the camper was to tow and manoeuvre. Once I had it parked on the campsite, I spent a few hours moving all my gear out of the car and into the camper storage and generally getting familiar with everything. After dinner – home-made burgers on the BBQ in the camp kitchen, again overlooking the beach – we tested the K-Pod as a lounge for the three of us before I settled down for my first night in my new mobile home. Once again, I was very pleased with how well it suited my needs.
Wednesday was the start of our return to Wellington. Our original plan was to head across to Kiritehere Beach for a night, the work our way down the west coast, but we had trouble sorting out accommodation, so decided to head straight down to Awakino. We left Tauranga in beautiful, sunny weather, but once we got over the Kaimai Ranges the clouds rolled in. About 20km before we reached Awakino we turned up Taumatamaire Rd for my first backroad run with the camper. This gave us some nicer scenery as we worked our way up into the hills, and also gave me a short run to test the camper off-road. While it was easy to tow, and followed well, it was a little bouncy, especially when hitting multiple potholes a bit too fast. It did not soak up the rough ground as well as the car does. When I checked later, I found that the tyre pressures were much higher than I had been told, so I am now experimenting with lower pressures for both on-road and off-road use.
The campground at Awakino was basic but clean and pleasant, so I took the